'Dude from England' was left speechless in girl's presence

Evelyn and Lee Millward

On a late summer night in 1986, Evelyn Manhart drove with friends to Omaha's Peony Park for one of its popular teen dance parties, Sprite Night on the outdoor Royal Grove dance floor.

As Evelyn stood near the dance floor, she overheard a group of boys introduce one of their friends to a group of giggling girls.

"This dude just moved here from England,'' she recalls the boys saying.

The girls giggled louder, and pleaded, "Oh, my God! Say something!"

Evelyn, who was about to start her junior year at Duchesne Academy, was always a bit of a skeptic, especially when it came to anything teenage boys say. She figured this supposedly British kid was just trying to get a date and his buddies were helping him out.

So Evelyn decided to blow their trick wide open. She stepped up to the phony Brit, poked him in the chest and said, "You're not from England."

He just stared at her. "Say something," she demanded. He kept staring and didn't say a word. His friends roared with laughter, and Evelyn figured she had proved her case. She walked away, feeling pleased with herself.

Soon she lost her girlfriends in the crowd, and about an hour later she was wandering the dance floor when she felt a soft tap on her shoulder.

She turned around. It was the fake British boy.

"Can I have your phone number?" he asked.

But she could barely understand what he said, not because of the loud music, but because he delivered the words in a thick, beautiful British accent.

Evelyn melted. His name was Lee Millward. And he really was British.

She grabbed his hand and led him away to find a pen. She wrote her number on his hand, and he promised he'd call.

At 8 the next morning the phone rang at her Dundee home. Her sister answered, walked into Evelyn's bedroom and announced: "There's some weird-sounding guy on the phone asking for you."

He picked her up that night, and they drove to a party in west Omaha but ended up spending most of the night walking through a park and talking.

Lee was 17 and was about to start his senior year at Millard North High. He had arrived in Omaha just weeks before.

He was born and raised in England. After his parents divorced, his father moved to the United States and met a woman who was originally from Omaha. His dad remarried and moved with his new wife to Omaha and Lee joined his dad here.

Lee and Evelyn began dating regularly, and she discovered he was a smart, kind and hardworking guy with a nice sense of humor.

They continued dating through high school and college. Both graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and Lee enrolled in medical school at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

They married June 23, 1995, at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church and have two children, Henry and Rosy.

Lee is an emergency room physician, and Evelyn is a homemaker and runs a small bakery from her house.

Though his thick Yorkshire accent has faded a bit, his teenage kids still tease him about it.

So on that summer night at Peony Park all those years ago, why didn't he respond to Evelyn's challenge to say something?

Lee says he was "gobsmacked" — British slang for astounded — not by the demand, but by her beauty.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1122, michael.oconnor@owh.com

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